Charges levied against 2 men long suspected of being involved in Freedom Township firebombing
Washtenaw County prosecutors criminally charged the final two men suspected of being part of a gang of arsonists that firebombed a Freedom Township bar in 2009.
William Ferris and James Prevost on Thursday waived their rights to have preliminary hearings within two weeks of their arraignment on nine felony counts, records show.
They are charged with attempted murder, arson, and placing explosives near property, causing damage. Each remains in custody on $500,000 bond, pending a Jan. 25 hearing in district court.
Authorities say they were part of the group responsible for the Sept. 11 attack at the Pleasant Lake Inn in retribution for an alleged financial dispute with the owners. A homemade bomb consisting of gun powder, detonating fuses and other materials fell short of the building and blew a hole in the deck. No one was injured.
Their co-defendants, Nicholas Kraus and Joshua McClellan, are scheduled to stand trial on identical counts in February.
Two Washtenaw County brothers, Joshua and Joseph Hafner-Canter, pleaded guilty in December to six felony counts of arson, conspiracy and the explosives charge in the case. They will be sentenced after the other cases are resolved, as long as they cooperate with authorities, prosecutors said.
Ferris, 54, is the alleged ringleader of the group, which performed multiple arson-for-hire schemes in Washtenaw and Jackson counties, according to previous court testimony. Ferris is currently serving between six and 20 years in prison for drug and burning real property convictions in Lenawee County in 2009.
Robert Morgan, Ferris’ Detroit-based attorney, did not return messages. Patrick Carmody, Prevost’s Saline-based attorney, said he had yet to review substantial amounts of evidence compiled in the lengthy investigation and declined further comment.
Prevost, 25, is accused of setting fire to a hallway in the basement area of the bar, which has residential quarters. They were occupied at the time of the fire, but no one was injured.
When the Hafner-Canter brothers entered their pleas, Washtenaw County Assistant Prosecutor Sam Holtz said he could not discuss the ongoing investigation into Ferris’ and Prevost’s alleged involvement or why charges weren't filed earlier. They're also facing charges for the arson of a barn in Jackson County.
Despite the damage, the Pleasant Lake Inn remained open. Employees reached there on Saturday said they were pleased to hear additional suspects were charged but deferred further comment to the owners, who were not immediately available and did not return messages.